No two homes are a like but all demand careful consideration when it comes to arranging furniture. In fact the smaller your space, the more important space planning becomes.
Here are a few universal rules to help you maximize the enjoyment of your home:
Rule 1: Identify Primary Function(s)
How do you intend to use your space? Each function should have it’s own area or quadrant so two or more people can occupy the room without impacting either’s experience.
Most living rooms have multiple functions be it reading, watching television, doing work, entertaining etc. Be sure to prioritize each function based on how much it impacts the overall enjoyment of your home.
Rule 2: Consider Movement & Traffic Flow
Start planning each room by identifying its transition zones – a space that’s ideally 36 inches from each entry point. Be careful not to crowd this area and always consider the weight or scale of objects nearby. Placing visually heavy objects further away from an entrance helps minimizes bulkiness and makes your space appear larger. It also helps improve traffic flow.
Once you’ve identified transition zones plan pathways from one room or functional area to the next, making sure you leave at least 24 inches in width for the average person to move easily throughout the space. You can further maximize traffic flow by making it as obstacle-free and intentional as possible, even if it means moving furniture closer together elsewhere.
Rule 3: Identify a Hierarchy of Focal Points
Every well-designed room has at least one focal point. In an ideal room there are several so everyone’s view is considered no matter what their vantage point – sitting, standing etc. Examples include a fireplace, a feature wall, a window or view, artwork, a carefully placed vignette, even a TV/media area if that’s the primary function of the room. Be sure and prioritize so the main focal point is most obvious and subsequent focal points diminish in size and importance from there.
Rule 4: Move Furniture Away from the Walls
It’s a common misconception that lining your walls with furniture makes a room feel larger when in reality the exact opposite is true. By moving furniture away from walls you create the illusion of space by minimizing and balancing the area in the center of the room. Moving furniture away from walls helps identify pathways, improves traffic flow and makes a room more intimate when it comes to conversing with family members or guests. It also helps identify different zones by dividing your space into functional areas.
Rule 5: Balance is Key
The goal is to distribute the visual weight of objects throughout a room to achieve balance.
Start by diving your room into four quadrants. The space on both sides of the axis should balance in terms of furniture weight, scale, and proportion. If not, you can improve balance with a bold pattern or colour.
Don’t forget height when balancing your space. For example, if you have a window on one side of the room and not the other, strive for symmetry by adding a mirror of equal height and width.
Rule 6: Review Functional Areas in Order of Importance
Picture and visualize yourself using the space.
For instance, at bare minimum a functional reading area should include a comfortable chair and a good light. If you like to enjoy a beverage while reading, make sure you’ve left room for a side table. If you prefer putting your feet up, opt for a footstool or ottoman. Only if you have room should you consider adding both and often at the expense of something else. The number of pieces you choose is just as important as where you place them.
Often the smallest changes make the biggest impact. Whether it’s rearranging your furniture to improve traffic flow, defining functional zones or creating multiple focal points, how you plan your furniture can only improve how you use and enjoy your home.